April 20, 1987 12:00 PM

David Bodanis is an energetic fellow who tends to get very enthusiastic about his work. Lately, however, his girlfriend has had to remind him “that it isn’t wise to bring up research topics at dinner parties.” A politic move, since Bodanis’ subjects might include the contents of some mass-produced ice cream—”leftover cattle parts no one else wants,” he says, “udders, rectal tissue and nostrils boiled up and mixed with sugars and ice.” Facial bacteria is another personal favorite. “It’s a pretty gruesome topic,” he concedes, “but it is curious to realize we have millions of little friends living on our face. I really became fascinated.” A Chicago native who works as a science reporter in London, Bodanis, 30, has now transferred his fascination from the dinner table to a book. Compiled with the help of scores of specialists, The Secret House (Simon & Schuster, $19.95) is a bug-eyed look at the squiggly, squirmy life-forms that go unseen in the ordinary home. Bodanis’ yearlong research has had a predictable effect on his live-in girlfriend. “We went through a very hygienic stage where we had to boil everything,” says journalist Kathleen Griffin, 32, “and I’d brush the bed down every night. But you get over that.” Indeed the two have made peace with their tenants. “We live in harmony with 99 percent of the creatures in our homes,” says Bodanis. “And to place things in perspective, put yourself in a weevil’s place. They might look alarming to us, but imagine what we look like to them.”

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